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Series / The Saint

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"You're the famous Simon Templar!"
— The end of every pre-credits sequence

The series started in 1962. Its hero is charming, well-dressed, intelligent, British and ready to fight the bad guys—not to mention played by Roger Moore.

We are talking, of course, about The Saint.

There was also a successful Radio Drama version made in three series in 1947, 1949, and 1950, starring Vincent Price.

Created by Leslie Charteris in a series of books, Simon Templar, nicknamed The Saint (because of his initials), is a world-famous amateur detective who operates as a modern-day Robin Hood. Many episodes of the Moore series adapted short stories and novels from the book series.

Aside from providing Moore with his defining pre-007 role (by the time the series came to an end in 1969, Moore was the highest-paid television actor in the world), The Saint was also a significant milestone for Lew Grade and his production company, ITC Entertainment; with 118 episodes, it was outlasted only by The Avengers, and enjoyed enormous success internationally. It has been credited as earning ITC as much as $350 million, and along with the aforementioned Avengers paved the way for ITC's sprawling catalogue of (usually much shorter-lived) adventure and mystery shows, including The Champions, Department S, Jason King, The Baron, Man in a Suitcase and many others.

After it finished in 1969, it was followed in 1978 by a revival titled Return of the Saint starring Ian Ogilvy. Virtually identical to the Moore series (right down to the opening narration), except for being set in the late 1970s, the revival lasted a single season. Additional attempts have been made to bring Simon back to TV, the most successful (to a degree) being a series of Australian-made TV movies that were syndicated in North America in the late 1980s.

The Saint provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Inspector Teal is the only recurring character from the books to appear in the series.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: In the books, Inspector Teal is a brilliant detective, and one whom Templar occasionally underestimates. In the series, he is presented as almost incompetent, with his success in solving cases always down to the efforts of Simon Templar.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Simon Templar in the series differed from that of the books. The character of the original stories had a more hard edge and had no qualms about committing murder. Therefore, as written in the series, Templar had to be made more likable and less inclined to kill.
  • Adaptational Job Change: In the books Templar was a thief who steals from other criminals, but in the TV version he is a rich unemployed "adventurer" who hangs around in casinos and hotel lobbies waiting for the week's plot to arrive, while making Inspector Teal of the Yard angry because he has no reason to arrest Templar yet again.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Simon Templar was considerably less ruthless and morally gray than in the books, being more altruistic and heroic. While he still had no qualms about killing, it was largely in self-defense.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: In "The Gadic Collection", Simon is locked in a cell with spikes on the walls that close in on him. He manages to free himself by using his necktie to pull the outside lever.
  • Aesop Enforcer: In "The Golden Journey", Simon Templar encounters his friend's beautiful, rich, and very spoilt fiancee Belinda. He sets her up for a life-changing lesson by stealing her money and possessions, leaving her no choice but to undertake a long journey with him on foot. After encountering many hardships on the way, she learns that there are more important things than money, and becomes much more pleasant.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In "Teresa", a trapeze artist is killed during his act. Right before he dies he offers a woman who was visiting him too some clues about the whereabouts of her missing husband.
  • Amoral Attorney: Cartlon Rood in "The Element of Doubt". He is a brilliant attorney; but he is also entirely corrupt. In a matter of months, he has won acquittals for murderers and embezzlers. He doesn't care how guilty his clients are - as long as they pay his astronomical fees. And he doesn't mind what methods he uses - so long as he gains the acquittals.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In "The Saint Steps In", Simon arrives just as the Girl of the Week is being kidnapped by two thugs disguised as plainclothes policemen. When the explain that they're police, Simon replies, "And I'm the Home Secretary".
  • Asshole Victim: Jerkass gossip columnist Floyd Vosper in "The Arrow of God" - no one, including the police was sorry he was found a beach with the titular srrow in his chest. It's not killed him.
  • Avenging the Villain: "The Time to Die" sees the brother of one of Simon's deceased adversaries (unseen in the series) conduct an elaborate revenge scheme
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Simon Templar. This trope really was enforced, because the production could not pay for the fancy suits Roger Moore wore in real life. Being the best paid actor of his time, Roger Moore used his own clothes.
  • Blindfolded Trip: "Simon and Delilah" had Simon Templar made prisoner and driven around a city. Too bad they passed some locations that made very characteristic sounds.
  • Blind Without 'Em: "Lida" has Simon defeat a henchmen by knocking his glasses off. He's polite enough to return them when he has him at his mercy.
  • The Bluebeard: John Clarron of "The Talented Husband" had two previous wives die in mysterious circumstances. Turns out he murdered them while disguised as his housekeeper.
  • The Boxing Episode: "The Crooked Ring" has Simon investigating the death of a boxer in the ring. Turns out that a crooked manager is fixing the fights. Naturally, the climax has Simon stepping into the ring himself.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Early seasons began each episode with Simon Templar talking directly to the audience to set the scene for the episode. When the series moved to colour production, this was dropped in favor of off-screen narration.
    • Upon people recognising him, The Saint will often look upwards (and then often at the camera - see the illustration on this page for an example) as an animated halo appears to segue into the Title Sequence.
  • Canada, Eh?:
    • "Judith" is set in Montreal. The episode even opens with Simon at a hockey game.
    • "The Sporting Chance" is set in Ontario.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "The Well-Meaning Mayor", council member George Hackett is trying to prove that the mayor of Seatondean, Sam Purdell, is embezzling money from the city by means of the construction of the new city hall. Unfortunately he has an uncontrollable temper so no one believes him.
    • In "The Saint Steps In", Simon is convinced that the Girl of the Week telling him her trouble is part of a prank put on by some undergraduates and dismisses her. He realises she was telling the truth when the undergraduates don't know her.
  • Casualty in the Ring: In "The Crooked Ring", Connie Grady calls Simon for help because she believes that her friend, the boxer Steve Nelson, is in danger. As they watch a fight of Torpedo Smith against Steve's next opponent The Angel, Smith is clearly the better boxer. But suddenly Torpedo Smith begins to stagger and is knocked down and dies. Nelson didn't intend to kill him and is horrified, but his crooked manager is unconcerned.
  • The Cavalry: In one episode, Simon Templar actually refers to a useful group of friendly sailors as "the cavalry" after they burst in and beat up the bad guy's Mooks for him.
  • Channel Hop: The Radio version switched from NBC to Mutual then back to NBC.
  • Cold Open: Home of the aforementioned fourth wall breaking.
  • Comedic Spanking: "The Golden Journey" sees Simon teach a Spoiled Brat some manners by putting her across his knee and spanking her. A nearby peasant mistakes her screams for The Immodest Orgasm.
  • Compilation Movie: Two two-part episodes from series 6, "Vendetta for the Saint" and "The Fiction Makers", were made into feature films and distributed to theatres in Europe, and often show up on late-night television in America.
  • Con Man: "The Bunco Artists" sees Simon punish a pair of con artists who scam a couple out of money that was to restore a church roof.
  • Cool Car: Templar's car, when it appeared, was a white Volvo P1800 with the number plate ST 1. This model Volvo is still often referred to as "the Saint's car", with miniature versions made by Corgi which have proved popular.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In "The Inescapable Word", a man is found dead in a pool of blood at his laboratory with the word "COP" written in his own blood. We're led to assume that he was writing the word "cop", as he'd argued with a policeman earlier. It turns out he was a Russian, who was writing the murderer's name in Russian, but died before he could complete it.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: In "The Organisation Man", Templar, working undercover for British military intelligence, has infiltrated a small private army whose current assignment is to liberate a captured, high-profile spy. They're disguised in the stolen tartans of a detachment of Scottish soldiers who were due to take over guard duty, and on handover, are being inspected by the current guard commander. Their disguises are perfect (as befits a regiment known for their punctilious attention to detail), up until the point when the commander notices that they've all placed their sgian-dubh knives in the wrong sock - the right rather than the left.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: "The Talented Husband" sees a failed actor disguise himself as his female housekeeper so he can murder his spouses.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: In "The Benevolent Burglary", a drummer is in love with a girl whose millionaire father refuses to let them marry. He does everything to foil every chance for Fulton to get an employment in a band.
  • Death Ray: In "The Inescapable Word", a defecting Soviet scientist is murdered with his own weapon for the secrets of the death ray he has just invented; at the end of the episode, the killer runs away with the only working prototype; he trips, falls, drops the device, the beam accidentally activates, and....
  • Denser and Wackier: Much like The Avengers (1960s), the series started out with grounded mystery plots and got very outlandish in its later seasons.
  • Disguised in Drag: The villain of the first episode drags up as an old woman so he can murder his wife.
  • Dragon Lady: Oriental diplomat Madame Chen in "Jeanine" is this, although rather than being the villain of the story, she's a target for her valuable pearl necklace.
  • Fake Shemp: Look-alikes for Moore were used for location shoots where the Saint is seen in the distance entering a well-known building or driving past the camera at speed
  • Faking the Dead: "The Rhine Maiden" concerns an English businessman conducting a scheme to stage his death and escape to Switzerland with a quarter of a million pounds he'd embezelled from his late business partner, with the aid of his crooked medical adviser. Simon and the Girl of the Week (the dead partner's daughter) see the body, which Simon discovers is a different corpse with a mask on.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Being played Roger Moore, Simon Templar is a natural at this.
  • Friend to All Children: "The Charitable Countess" sees Simon help street urchins in Rome.
  • The Gambling Addict: "The Fellow Traveller" sees Simon help an electronics engineer whose gambling addiction leads him to selling secrets from his work in exchange for them. But before he can reveal more he gets killed.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Simon Templar, of course.
  • Gentleman Detective: This incarnation of Simon Templar is a rich unemployed "adventurer" and amateur detective who hangs around in casinos and hotel lobbies waiting for the week's plot to arrive. In the books, he's more of a Gentleman Thief.
  • Get into Jail Free: In "Escape Plan", Simon gets arrested for burglary and is sentenced to ten years in Princetown prison. It turns out that he's working undercover to find out who organized several prison breaks.
  • Gladiator Games: "The Man Who Liked Lions" has Simon Templar running afoul of a thuggish Roman revivalist.
  • He Knows Too Much: In "The Saint Plays with Fire", a journalist is murdered before he can expose a new Nazi party that has risen in England, A photographer who had unearthed the names of the financial supporters of the party is also murdered.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: This happens to Simon Templar in "To Kill a Saint". When nightclub owner Paul Verrier is tricked into believing that The Saint has tried to murder him, Templar goes to see him to try to resolve the situation. However, Verrier assumes that he's Braddock, a hitman whom Verrier has hired to kill Templar. Templar quickly adopts the role, and so becomes the hitman with a contract on himself.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Inescapable Word", the villain has created a powerful atomic Death Ray. Three guesses as to how he dies.
  • How We Got Here: "Pearls Of Peace" starts with Simon receiving a telegram... cue an episode-length flashback revealing the events that led to that telegram being sent.
  • Human Popsicle: In "The Man Who Gambled with Life", wealthy industrialist Keith Longman is dying soon because of his weak heart, so he devises a plan to freeze himself with liquid nitrogen until a cure will be found.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: This happens in a number of episodes:
    • In the wrap-up of "The Gadic Collection", Ahmed Bayer gives himself away when he mentions the main villain's name when he had no way of knowing who he is.
    • In 'The Fast Woman', the perp commits a string of these blunders while being interrogated by the Saint & a police inspector. First of all he tells them there's no way that they can get the sniper he hired to testify against him, since he is "a dead man". The Saint's reply? "How did you know he was dead? It wasn't published in the papers." Next up, the perp swears he "wasn't anywhere near Brighton last night" (where the sniper's murder took place). The inspector's reply? "Who said anything about Brighton?". The perp then suggests he knows it happened in Brighton because "Paddy" (another character) must have told him. The Saint's reply? "Paddy? What's he got to do with it? The only reason you know he was there at the shooting was because you - as shooter - saw him there".
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Robert Brown, who played the squire to Roger Moore's Ivanhoe, appeared in "The Saint Plays With Fire" and "The Miracle Tea Party". He would later play M to Moore's James Bond.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: From 1966 onwards, there were various episodes that featured some rather fanciful storylines. The following examples: "The Convenient Monster", "The House on Dragon's Rock", and "The Power Artists" are testaments to this.
  • The Illegal: The villain of "The People Importers" is an unsuccessful boat-builder who is nonetheless in the money because he is in the business of smuggling illegal immigrants into Britain. Additionally it is revealed that one of the immigrants who has gone on the run was suffering from small-pox and the Saint must locate him before he can spread the disease.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: In "When Spring is Sprung", Simon deduces that Colonel Hannerly is an imposter by pointing out that he claims to be in the Royal Artillery, when he wears the tie of the Horse Artillery.
  • Inspector Antagonist: Chief Inspector Teal.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: In "The Gadic Collection", Simon takes the Turkish police back to the apartment he went to earlier, only to find it cleaned out and the old couple having been bribed to deny anyone was ever there.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In "The Revolution Racket", Simon teams up with a husband-and-wife team to sell fake guns to some Cuban revolutionaries. The wife double-crosses him and takes his gun - but he was on to them and had the good sense to take the bullets out.
  • Just Like Robin Hood
  • Karma Houdini: "Pearls Of Peace" the man swindles Simon's friend Brad and is responsible for causing Brad's blindness Never gets caught.
  • Kill It with Fire: In "The Saint Plays with Fire", the British Nazi Party silence a newspaper man by killing him in a housefire.
  • Land Downunder: "The Loving Brothers" takes place in Australia.
  • Large Ham: "Island of Chance" has Dr. Charles Krayford (David Bauer) - a disgraced, reclusive scientist working to create a panacea to share with the world (using, of course, flasks of bubbling, coloured liquids and sundry interconnected glassware). He's utterly dedicated to his research, and earnestly chews the scenery whenever pleading his case. He goes all-out in his death scene, which ends up being rather narmy as a result.
  • La Résistance: in "The Covetous Headsman" Simon is revealed to have spent time in the French Resistance during WWII. The plot of the episode revolves around other former resistance members finding the villain of the episode, an unknown traitor who had betrayed and caused the death of a number of men during the war.
  • Laser Hallway: Done rather well and "realistic" in the two-part episode "The Fiction Makers", which first aired in December 1968 and was later released as a theatrical film. Instead of a hallway, it was a corridor between two fences.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Brad Ryan's ambitious and money-hungry ex-girlfriend Joss in "Pearls Of Peace" is much more attached to her jewels years later she STILL doesn't know Simon swapped her pearls with fakes in order to friend Brad.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: In "The Master Plan", Simon Templar and Girl of the Week Jean find themselves locked in a hidden cell which can only be opened by sliding a sculpture, visible through a small viewing hole, on the wall opposite the entrance. He happens to notice Jean fiddling with the beads of her necklace - by pulling the string taut, he uses it to reach the switch and release the door.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In “The Convenient Monster” the Villain of the Week is committing murders and blaming them on the Loch Ness Monster. While attempting to escape in a rowboat, the the water starts to roil around the boat and the villain begins to scream. The villains body is later found badly mutilated, which is attributed to the ferry boat catching the body in its propeller, only for Templar to point out that the ferry wasn’t running that night. The episode ends without revealing if there is a rational explanation or if the monster was Real After All.
  • May–December Romance: Lord Yeardley of "The Noble Sportsman" has a wife thirty years his junior.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Patricia Holm was always ready to wait for The Saint in his early adventures.
  • No Fourth Wall: The black-and-white seasons began each episode with Simon Templar addressing the audience and setting the scene for each week's adventure. After the show moved to colour production, this was replaced by narration.
  • Novelization: Although many episodes of the series actually adapted short stories, novellas and novels already published as part of the long-running book series, a number of original episode storylines were in turn adapted as part of the Saint book series. Several Return of the Saint episodes were also adapted.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The foreign accents can be...variable.
  • Pet the Dog: All the series is this for Simon Templar. If you are the Victim of the Week, Simon Templar will help you completely free of charge, maybe he will accept that you pay for his expenses or, as "The unkind philantrophist", he will accept you to pay for his hotel, but no more than a week.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    • Right before the opening credits, somebody would always refer to "... the _____ Simon Templar." (Fill in the blank with 'illustrious', 'infamous', or something like that.) Which would cause Simon to glance up and note the halo appearing over his head, leading into the Title Sequence.
    • Templar always greets Teal with mock respect: "Claud Eustace Teal, pride of Scotland Yard". Whilst Teal always gruffly refers to Templar by his surname only, Templar addresses Teal with the much more chummy "my dear Claud".
  • The Prima Donna: "Simon and Delilah" focuses on the kidnapping of a temperamental and demanding movie star who, according to the studio publicist, is on her 85th fight to date and is on her fifth husband.
  • Princess in Rags: "The Golden Journey" is about Simon teaching a spoilt, entitled bride-to-be some humility by her money, her jewels and her passport and taking her on a long journey.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Initially averted in "The Man Who Gambled with Death" where a millonaire with a heart condition wanted to use cryogenics until open heart surgery was commonplace. He did several animal tests, and wanted to start human testing with somebody else, but at the end of the episode, Simon Templar escaped and a heart attack forced the man to enter his machine in emergency.
  • Protagonist Title: Simon Templar, a.k.a The Saint, is the protagonist.
  • Real After All: "The Convenient Monster" involves a villain faking attacks by the Loch Ness Monster. At the end the villain is implied to have been eaten by the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Road Trip Romance: "The Golden Journey" was loosely based on this idea. Simon Templar manipulated circumstances in such a way that the spoilt, entitled fiancee of his friend would be compelled to travel rough with him and learn to be more kind and sensitive.
  • Russian Roulette: In "Island of Chance", Simon interrogates a pair of goons with a pistol and one bullet. It later turns out that the gun was empty all along.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: In "The Man Who Gambled with Life", Simon's ladyfriend knocks out a guard with a karate chop and proudly states that she saw it on television. Simon then calls her Emma Peel.
  • Sequel Episode: "The Death Game"'s main villain Adolph Volger returns several episodes later in "The Power Artists", where he concucts a revenge scheme against Simon.
  • Setting Update: The stories are contemporary, despite being based on a book series that started in the 1920s.
  • Shout-Out: "Luella" features a rare case of a predictive shout out. At the end of an episode, a middle-aged woman tells Templar she knows who he really is: James Bond. After this, Templar breaks the fourth wall as the Saint halo appears above his head (a rare case of this happening at the end of an episode). Moore, of course, would go on to play Bond in the 1970s, though he did appear as Bond in a spoof for a British TV show during his time as the Saint.
    • Moore was also the first choice to play James Bond in Dr. No, but he was tied in to his contract to play The Saint, and they had to go with Sean Connery instead.
  • Sibling Rivalry:
    • "Judith" involves an industrialist who despises and envies his less successful brother - the envy stemming from the fact that he has a daughter and his own marriage is childless.
    • "The Loving Brothers" features a pair of feuding brothers who are wealthy industrialists whose poor father discovers a silver mine. Simon scams both of them.
  • Spoiled Brat: "The Golden Journey" sees Simon deal with one of these about to get married. To teach her humility, he steals all her money and jewelry so that Belinda has to rely on him. His plan is to hike one week with her to Tormes where Belinda is supposed to meet Jack.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Chief Inspector Teal.
  • Tap on the Head: This happens to Simon quite often.
  • Taught by Television: In "The Man Who Gambled with Life", Simon asks the girl of the week where she learned karate moves and she replies that she saw it on television. Simon then refers to her as Mrs. Peel.
  • Tempting Fate: In a bit of self-awareness, "The Saint Steps In" opens with Simon Templar in a cocktail bar in London, where a pair of undergraduates make fun of his reputation for many a Damsel in Distress coming to him for help. He delivers his monologue to the camera about how women don't always come up to him and say they need his help...only for the Girl of the Week to appear and say it before he can.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: "The Saint Plays with Fire" sees Simon deal with the British Nazi Party after a journalist is murdered trying to expose them.
  • Two-Part Episode: "The Fiction Makers" and "Vendetta for the Saint".
  • Victory Through Intimidation: One episode had Simon Templar holding off a few mobsters:
    Mobsters: You can't shoot all of us!
    Templar: Which of you wants to be a hero?
  • Vocal Evolution: During the black and white series, Roger Moore played Simon Templar with an American accent (as the character from the stories hailed from the United States). By the time the colour series went into production, the accent became more British.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: In "The Power Artists", Simon Templar has to hide a corpse in plain sight by covering it in plaster of Paris and leaving it on display in a studio. Inevitably, the sculpture gets knocked over.
  • Weapon Stomp: The opening credits of the colour seasons showed people fighting in colored silhouette. One of the images shows a man reaching for a gun, only to have his hand stomped on.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In "The Golden Journey", Simon monologues about how his friend Jack's bratty fiancée Belinda could be cured with a good slap, but Jack loves her too much to do so. Simon later takes it upon herself to spank her when she tries to hit him, telling her that women who hit men are relying on a false sense of chivalry for the men to not return in kind.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: In "The Arrow of God", a jerkass newspaper columnist is a guest at a party in Nassau when he is murdered. The guests all have a motive, as he had a lot of dirt on them.
  • Weapon Stomp: In the opening credits!

Alternative Title(s): Return Of The Saint